Other Minds’ 21st Festival of New Music took place at San Francisco’s SFJAZZ Center over the course of two evenings and one afternoon during March 4-6, 2016. The three concerts featured works of ten American and international composers; Lasse Thoresen (NO), Cecilie Ore (NO), Oliver Lake (US), Larry Polansky (US), John Oswald (CA), Nicole Lizée (CA), Phil Kline (US), Michael Gordon (US), and two OM alumini, Gavin Bryars (UK), and Meredith Monk (US).
Preceding the second concert on Saturday, March 5, Other Minds’ Executive and Artistic Director, Charles Amirkhanian, led a panel discussion with the evening’s featured artists Oliver Lake, Larry Polansky, Elliot Simpson, Nicole Lizée, and John Oswald. Meredith Monk also took part as there was no panel discussion before Sunday’s concert. John Oswald discusses the making of several of his pieces and his work with Eve Egoyan. Nicole Lizée talks about the influence of analog media and its imperfect artifacts on her music, as well as on her series of compositions called the Criterion Collection. Elliot Simpson talks about his work with Larry Polansky and demonstrates the National steel guitar he will be playing later. Polanksy briefly discusses harmonics and special moments at the Djerassi artists residency. Oliver Lake shares the story of his twice bought saxophone and some thoughts on reggae. Meredith Monk talks about her current ensemble, the program scheduled for Sunday’s concert, and her famous braids.
Concert 2: Saturday, March 5, 2016
Michael Gordon: Light is Calling (2004) I wrote Light Is Calling in my studio on Desbrosses Street in the days and months after September 11, 2001. I live close to Ground Zero, and I wanted to make something beautiful after witnessing something ugly and tragic. The piece juxtaposes the sound of an acoustic violin with warped electronic pulses played backwards.
Bill Morrison, with whom I collaborated on Decasia, created an accompanying film to Light Is Calling by reprinting and re-editing a scene from the black-and-white 1926 movie, The Bells.
Kate Stenberg, violin Bill Morrison, video
Nicole Lizée: The David Lynch Études (2015) David Lynch Études is the fourth in a series of works titled The Criterion Collection: glitch-based pieces that delve into the worlds of iconic films and filmmakers that have made a marked impact on my aesthetic. Each forming an idiosyncratic exploration into the marriage of glitch and concert music.
Sounds and visuals from Lynch’s film and TV catalogue are corrupted and merged with disklavier to form an immersive and psychedelic journey. The disklavier writing is a musical mirror of the absurdist, surrealist-and sometimes violent and disturbing-nature of Lynch’s work with its tendency toward floating atemporal scenes, adroit dialogue and non sequiturs. It extends beyond the soundtrack work of Angelo Badalamenti, Alan Splet, and Lynch and into the mystical foley sounds and meticulous sound design. The writing takes on the characteristics of ‘Lynchian’ glitch as the disparate sources twist, weave and interact - reflecting the dreamy, hazy, twisted, and surreal otherworldliness of Lynch’s universe.
Eve Egoyan, disklavier & piano
[Commissioned by Eve Egoyan with generous funding from the Canada Council for the Arts.]
John Oswald:Homonymy (1998/2015) Homonymy was originally conceived as a piece for live chamber orchestra and projection. It was commissioned by the Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) and premiered on 19 May, 1998 in the “Bédéphonie” concert produced by the SMCQ and the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec (OSQ) at the Palais Montcalm, in Quebec City.
In 2015 Oswald began working with Eve Egoyan on a performance solo prepared piano version.
The piece plays upon the linguistic sign - letters, numbers - as both aural and visual entities. In order for the piece to work, one must “sound” these signs in one’s head in order to make any sense of the rapid associations that unfold in the typographic displays on the screen. At times, the written text also plays on homophony with the musical composition, for example with the onomatopoeia [har] or [ho] that reproduce the sounds of the horn instruments.
Palimpia (2016) I’ve just realized that i’ve never composed a piece for a regular piano, but, in ways that deviate extremely from Conlon Nancarrow’s formidable canon, I have been rather obsessed with what a player piano can do.
Working with pianist Eve Egoyan, i’ve now added to this obsession a new world of possibilities in which a player piano and a living pianist, interacting, can create a bionic symbiosis of performer and acoustic machine.
Palimpia, as part of a rascali klepitoire that has spun off from the plunderphonics genre, begins with a familiar seed (which can be change from performance to performance), which, as it is gradually revealed, is subject to various obfuscating and illuminating processes. It is in 6 movements: 1- silent mode 2-further more 3-retro inversion ritard 4-cat and mouse 5-masked intruder 6-evitable accelerandoings
Many thanks to Eve, to whom this composition is dedicated, for her constant curiovirtuosity.
Eve Egoyan, disklavier & piano
invaria (1999) One of eleven pieces from The Idea of This (1999), a ballet suite on a theme of Glenn Gould, invaria is a pitch inversion, pivoting on G, of a 1981 recording of Gould playing the Goldberg ‘aria’, using a precise MIDI transcription of that performance by Ernest Cholakis tailored to a Yamaha Disklavier, which was a sister to the piano Gould originally used. More recently two video performances of Gould performing the aria were edited together in mirror image (in pianistic terms the visual equivalent to and audible inversion) to match the performance of the audio recording.
Larry Polansky: ii-v-i (1997) For two electric guitars (or solo electric guitar)
ii-v-i is one of the first of several of my instrumental works ii-v-i is one of the first of several of my instrumental works exploring real-time tuning. Its form is simple, though challenging to perform. The guitars are retuned, while playing, to three different (related) harmonic series over the course of the piece, in a continuous modulation of all 12 strings. ii-v-i was premiered by Nick Didkovsky and me, guitars, in 1997, in New York City. The solo version was premiered by Claudio Calmens, Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1998. ii-v-i is dedicated to composers Carter Scholz and Brian McClaren.
Larry Polansky, electric guitar Giacomo Fiore, electric guitar
Songs from Songs and ‘Toods (2007)
tood: [Schneidertood] (not played) song: Dismission of Great I song: Sweet Betsy from Pike song: Eskimo Lullaby tood: [85 Chords (“The Historical Tuning Problem”)] (not played)
The Songs and Toods were written at the request of guitarist John Schneider, for the Lou Harrison Just Intonation Resonator guitar. A number of composers, myself included, were loaned the guitar for a period of time (in my case almost a year) in order to write for it.
Songs and Toods consists of three adaptations of existing songs, in which the guitarist sings and plays, and two computer-composed “toods,” which are abstract formal and harmonic studies. Only the three songs (“Dismission...,” “...Betsy...,” and “Eskimo Lullaby”) will be played on tonight’s concert.
Each piece in Songs and Toods uses a different guitar tuning on this already complex instrument, changing its “home key” (except for “...Betsy...”) in sometimes extreme ways. “Eskimo Lullaby” is taken from an old collection entitled Folk Songs of Canada. “Dismission of Great I” is from the Enfield, New Hampshire Shaker community (collected by Mary Ann Haagen). “...Betsy...,” one of the United States’ most sung songs, is the longest of the set, the song itself a kind of epic narrative with a many versions and verses (those used here are from Ruth Crawford Seeger’s 22 American Folk Songs).
Elliot Simpson, guitar and voice
34 Chords (Christian Wolff in Hanover and Royalton) (1995)
34 Chords, is an “orchestration” of Morton Feldman’s choral work Christian Wolff In Cambridge (1963), inspired by the “lost electric guitar piece” that Feldman wrote for Christian. 34 Chords... was written to celebrate my friend and colleague’s 25th year at Dartmouth College, and is dedicated to him with great respect for his work and ideas. I recorded it for The World’s Longest Melody, a CD of my guitar music by the guitar-based ensemble Zwerm (led by Toon Callier) for New World Records.
Larry Polansky, electric guitar
Oliver Lake Stick (2013/2015) For soprano & alto sax
I have composed short melodies, which are used as a jump off point for improvisation, 90 percent of the piece is improvised.
Oliver Lake, soprano and alto saxophone
[Notes taken from printed program]
For more detailed program information and to browse other material in the Other Minds Archive visit: radiOM.org